There’s always been a soft spot in my heart for kooks and weirdos. I’ve always taken a delight in the wackiness of Bigfoot and UFO hunters and guys like Art Bell and George Noory and Alex Jones.

In fact, I still remember driving home one night, decades ago, and on the radio some caller was making the case for why he was most likely turning into a werewolf on nights of a full moon. I remember Art Bell listening and diagnosing the evidence with the seriousness of a physician consulting a patient about the reason for his bloody urine. I remember loving that kind of Art Bell shit and, to some extend, I still do.

My father’s friend is a conspiracy guy. Unlike most of the folks I know, he knows who George Noory, Art Bell and Alex Jones are. He’s in his seventies. He’s a conspiracy guy but also has a Master’s Degree from Harvard. And he’s a nice guy. A genuinely nice guy. I suppose these are why I’ve taken some interest in Nels. Unlike most other people (including me), he goes out of his way to be nice to my father. But, unlike me, my father has little tolerance for Nels’ conspiracy nonsense. My father has no tolerance for anything he doesn’t think or believe in himself. It’s a large part of the reason why nobody but Nels is very nice to him.

But I can understand my father’s discomfort because I feel it too when Nels’ nonsense gets too deep for even me. I understand the awkward patronizing when Nels goes into full nutjob mode. My father has zero tolerance for it. I imagine a lot of people have little tolerance for it. Maybe the difference is, for me, there’s an element of amusement that I suppose doesn’t resonate with a lot of other people. Like when Nels tells me about his theory that male, Caucasian toddlers are being abducted in the United States and human trafficked to the Middle East to be used and abused as camel jockeys, then murdered and thrown into shallow graves once their usefulness as jockeys and objects of sexual abuse is done……that kinda shit I delight in. Truly. It’s so fucking absurd and creative. It’s something only one person in a million would spend more than a few seconds entertaining.

Like I said, Nels is a nice guy. And I’m sometimes amused by his conspiracies. He’s a nice guy and amusing enough that when I venture into the city, I sometimes let him know where I’ll be so he and I can hook up and hang out over a meal and drinks. I’ve even allowed myself to believe that getting Nels away from the internet and its web of conspiracies for a few hours might do him some good.

A few weeks ago I met with Nels on a Saturday over dinner. The art house theater was doing a retrospective on artsy/indie horror films. I was gonna see Human Centipede, which I didn’t bother telling Nels about. We met at a German biergarten beforehand. It wasn’t long before he got into things like 5G and humans and shapeshifting aliens fighting over evolved Nazi technologies on Mars. It wasn’t long before he started posing questions like, “How is it the vaccine’s been shown to affect the lungs and liver and kidneys as well as the brain?”

I work in healthcare so I think Nels believes I should be as concerned as he is, at least.

“You know about the blood/brain barrier?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said.

“It takes something miniscule to pass the blood/brain barrier.”

“Of course,” I said. “Something even smaller than regular proteins.”

He went on to explain the theory of microproteins, the bi-products of the vaccine’s decomposed RNA that are small enough to cross the blood/brain barrier.

“And these microproteins crossing into the brain – affecting the brain – exactly how are they affecting the brain?”

I was eating a fried seafood platter for Lent. I was drinking a chocolate/raspberry stout. I shrugged about his question regarding the vaccine and the brain.

“Are the effects intended or unintended? And if intended, intended for what?”

“Yeah,” I said. “For what?”

He offered some speculation of China’s involvement in the whole vaccine affair. And speculation as to why the government has been so determine to introduce this mind-affecting vaccine into our front line responders in the military, healthcare, etc. I felt Nels was feeling me out to make the big leap that the vaccine is intended to turn us into stupefied, brainwashed zombies, hence, easy prey for the Chinese government and military and their overlords in the global cabal of pedophile billionaires.

Within all this nonsense Nels mentioned how his sons and their families aren’t very receptive to this kind of talk. I read between the lines to imagine he was downplaying their concern and objections. And probably downplaying the effect it’s had on the relationships between himself and his sons, their spouses and his grandchildren. And it struck me there was nothing amusing about a significant strain – perhaps even a severing – to family ties over a bunch of nonsensical conspiracy bullshit.

It occurs to me now how all the conspiracy nonsense of abducted, pre-pubescent camel jockeys and shape-shifting humanoid lizards warring on Mars is like a tumor in the brain. A tumor through which much of Nels’ consciousness courses through. A tumor that’s nourished by a daily diet of more and more conspiracies. A festering, black tumor that corrupts and perverts far too much of his rational thought.

Even I, relatively high on the tolerance scale for nonsense, sometimes feel the discomfort of patronizing the lunacy. So others, those far less tolerant, must feel the discomfort of placating and pacifying the nonsense even worse. That discomfort alienates people. It causes them to seek the company of anyone or anything else that’s less discomforting.

I can only imagine Nels’ family has felt this. And wished that he would cause less discomfort to people, including them. And not only for them, but for his own psychological wellbeing too. I imagine them wishing he was less the lunatic (for there’s no other word for it) that believes in lizard people on Mars warring over Nazi technology. I imagine them telling him, “No more conspiracy bullshit around us, around our kids or in our home. It hurts us too much to see how this is affecting you.” I image them feeling as if placating his nonsense with silence, nods and comforting smiles is enabling the lunacy. Is enabling the madness. Is enabling that which alienates him more and more from people who might otherwise offer better guidance than the fellow conspirators in his echo chambers filled with shadowy cabals and their dreadful machinations. I imagine his family wishing – perhaps pleading with him – to quit nourishing that fetid tumor with the carbs and proteins of the internet’s corrupting and manipulating nonsense.

Yet, I imagine him too, believing that those microproteins will invade and infect the brains of the ones he knows and genuinely loves. And it’s his duty, as one who loves them, to advise them against harming themselves. I imagine it being a difficult thing to say to an elderly father who’d drive himself across country to be with his family, who’s given thousands upon thousands of dollars so his children could go to the colleges of their liking – I can only imagine how hard it is for them to say “no” to him.

So, what to do? For my part, I’m gonna try to stop treating his madness as an entertainment – as a novelty – and more like the illness it is. Because that brain tumor of conspiracy madness seems to be very much an illness. That tumor seems to be very much a disease, affecting not only him but those closest to him as well. I need to stop treating it as a folly, since love, concern, and intimacy – all that shit’s hard to come by. And it’s a sorrowful thing to imagine it’s being wasted over bullshit like lizard-men on Mars and vampire pedophiles. Or the Chinese government, in collusion with some cabal of billionaires, turning brains into mush with their vaccine. Yeah, the vaccine rotting our brains. As opposed to the conspiracies that seem to be doing a pretty good job of polluting and perverting our minds as well.

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